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Obliterating Self Consciousness

By Glen Friedman


Returning to the Awakened Life Project this July felt more like coming home ever has, even coming from the country I grew up in. I had been living and working in New York City for the previous eight months and was very happy to be back in this beautiful valley.

It amazed me to see how much the project had developed in the time I was away. The level of interest in what is happening here is growing rapidly, and fortunately the capacity has been expanding at the same time to allow more people to come and experience it.

But as I settled back into a more wholesome way of life, I began to notice a restriction in myself that did not feel right. I did not speak much during meals or when everyone was together. I felt like I did not have anything to say, and felt frustrated at that because I wanted to participate.

Men´s Group: Glen, Adam, Poul, Pete, Marko, Scott

Men´s Group: Glen, Adam, Poul, Pete, Marko, Scott

I often walked around with my head down or with my hands in my pockets, sometimes aware that I felt and looked awkward. I felt overwhelmed by all of the people I did not know during retreats or open days and found it hard to remember names and felt shy upon introductions.

Trying to order something at the café in Portuguese without sweating seemed to grow harder!

I became frustrated with myself because I was aware of the fact that I was nervous in a situation, and because I was distracted by fact that I was nervous, I would struggle to participate naturally and found myself caught in a web of self concern. I would stumble a bit over words, not say what I meant, or quietly speak bits of broken Portuguese.  And because I saw that I was not effectively communicating, I would become even more nervous and self-conscious of the situation.  What a cycle and I wanted out!!


I struggled with this for a few weeks, because I could not yet see where I was making a choice that I did not want to make.  Looking inwardly, listening to the story of the mind that is concerned with how I am viewed by others, is not what I am interested in doing. If I am doing this, how can I really hear what people are saying, or contribute what I really feel? I began to acquire distaste for the movement of mind that is self-concerned, which gradually grew into disgust.

Gradually I began to make an effort to immediately take my attention away from self-consciousness when I felt it creep in, and place my attention outwardly. As a result of this I began to see the self-conscious movement of mind more clearly and let it become distant as I chose not to identify with it.

While making this effort, I found myself feeling comfortable meeting new people, eager to share my experience with a group, and found that I really enjoy deeply listening to what people are saying.  I can also order a coffee because I am not afraid of what could happen if I don’t say it right!

Glen puts finishing touches to the roof of the Happy House

Glen puts finishing touches to the roof of the Happy House

This experience made it ever more clear what freedom really is. I could be frustrated, be a victim of a pattern of mind that is afraid of what people might think, but I am free to choose not to! And when I make this choice, over and over and over again, it becomes natural. With effort, it becomes natural for me to make a decision that is more in line with who I really am.

One Comment

  1. Joanna says:

    Well said Glen, – you too with the self consciousness eh, just goes to show ‘nothing really is personal’, ….happy to note that this is the case 😉 because this strangulating affliction of self consciousness and self concern has long been a bug bear as well, with all the things you describe, and becoming more and more tangled up in the mind. However the simple way you described of getting out of this, was great wanting to be free.

    Also you would not know, by meeting you, in my experience, that you felt this way, so nervous and self concious, which is interesting. Thanks for posting and love to all there at La Quinta. Joanna

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